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A weekly roundup of news, trends and insights designed exclusively for security professionals. This publication is intended for security staff only.

 

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In this issue — Aug 16, 2017

  • Trump Orders Probe of China’s Theft of Intellectual Property
  • Investigation Uncovers Iran-Backed Cyber-Espionage Group
  • Al Qaeda Draws Bullseye on New American Target: Subway Trains
  • Cyber Commander: U.S. ‘Outgunned’ in Electronic Warfare
  • Former Execs Sentenced in Sweeping Navy Corruption Case
  • Russian Cyber-Espionage Group Targeting Hotel Wifi
  • Five Things You Need to Know About Executive Protection
  • Experimental Defense Unit Funds New Tech but Faces Skeptics
  • U.S. Shielded from North Korea Missiles by High-Tech Defenses
  • New Squad of Experts Aims to Bring Order to Cyberwar

 

Trump Orders Probe of China’s Theft of Intellectual Property (Freebeacon.com, 8/14/17)

In a major slap at China, President Trump on Monday ordered an investigation into Chinese theft of American intellectual property. “We’re going to be fulfilling another campaign promise by taking firm steps to ensure that we protect the intellectual property of American companies and, very importantly, of American workers,” Trump said in signing a memorandum for U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer.

The directive will set the stage for an investigation into trade practices that require U.S. companies operating in China to provide intellectual property to the Chinese government. The memorandum calls on the USTR office to probe China’s policies, practices, and action regarding forced transfers of American technology and the theft of American intellectual property. More

 

Investigation Uncovers Iran-Backed Cyber-Espionage Group (UPI, 8/14/17)  

An Iran-backed cyber-es­pionage group called CopyKit­tens has increased activi­ties, launching attacks on governments, defense companies, and academic institu­tions in support of Tehran’s politi­cal agenda, a report said.  An investigative study by Israeli firm ClearSky Cybersecurity and Trend Micro called Operation Wilted Tulip traced CopyKittens’ activities to 2013, shedding light on its work patterns and possible motivations.   The report revealed that CopyKit­tens’ activities mostly centered on espionage of strategic targets, particularly Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, Israel, Germany, and the United States.  The group extracted informa­tion from government organi­zations, academic institutions, online news sites, and other organizations with the objective of gathering “as much information and data from target organizations as possible,” the report said. More

 

Al Qaeda Draws Bullseye on New American Target: Subway Trains (Washington Times, 8/11/17)  

Al Qaeda is about to take on a new target — America’s trains — in an upcoming edition of its terror magazine, Inspire.  Issue No. 17 is headlined, “Train Derail Operations,” and will spell out ways to create rail disasters in a transportation system that lacks the stiff security procedures of airline travel.   Its competing Sunni extremist group, the Islamic State, for more than a year has advocated using vehicles to mow down innocents.  Its murderous followers have weaponized vehicles in Nice, Berlin, and London, creating hundreds of deaths and injuries.  Adding trains to the terrorists’ priority list would put at risk virtually every mode of transportation and placed added pressure on the Department of Homeland Security. More

 

Cyber Commander: U.S. ‘Outgunned’ in Electronic Warfare (C4ISR.net, 8/11/17)

Two military leaders admitted last week that the United States is falling behind in its electronic warfare capability.  “When it comes to electronic warfare, we are outgunned,” Maj. Gen. John Morrison, the commander of Fort Gordon and the Army Cyber Center of Excellence, said during a presentation at a conference.  “We are plain outgunned by peer and near-peer competitors.”   This sentiment was seconded by Lt. Gen. Paul Funk II, the commanding general of III Corps, who added that the U.S. is also outranged in EW.  Russia ― and to some extent, China ― have exhibited advanced and stunning capabilities in the electromagnetic spectrum.  “If we don’t win the cyber/EW fight, then the maneuver fight may not matter because we may not get to it,” Maj. Gen. Wilson Shoffner, the director of operations with the Army‘s Rapid Capabilities Office, said recently. More

 

Former Execs Sentenced in Sweeping Navy Corruption Case (AP, 8/11/17)  

Two former executives of a contractor linked to a globe-spanning U.S. Navy corruption scandal have been sentenced to federal prison.  Neil Peterson received a nearly six-year sentence, and Linda Raja got nearly four years.  They worked for Singapore-based Glenn Defense Marine Asia, which supplied fuel, food, and other services to Navy ships in Asian ports.   Prosecutors said the company and its CEO, nicknamed “Fat Leonard,” bribed Navy officials with cash, prostitutes, and gifts to obtain classified information that helped the firm overbill the Navy by nearly $35 million.  Peterson and Raja were accused of submitting more than $5 million in bogus invoices and service bids.  They pleaded guilty in May to conspiracy. More

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Russian Cyber-Espionage Group Targeting Hotel Wifi (Computer Weekly, 8/11/17)  

Cybercriminals are targeting hotel wifi networks in the Middle East and throughout Europe, posing a risk to government and business travelers, warn researchers at security firm FireEye.  The campaign is being attributed with “moderate confidence” to Russian cyberespionage group APT28, the researchers wrote.   The group has been linked to a Russian military intelligence agency and several prominent cyberattacks.  These include attacks on the German parliament, a French television station, the White House, NATO, the Democratic National Committee, and the election campaign of French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron.  The campaign targeting the hospitality sector is believed to go back to at least July and to include password sniffing; poisoning the NetBIOS Name Service; and using the EternalBlue exploit, which was a key component of the WannaCry ransomware. More

 

Five Things You Need to Know About Executive Protection (CSO, 8/10/17)  

Protecting executives today is about much more than physically shielding them from danger.  The cybersecurity risks are higher than ever, and organizations need to ensure that the network and data access many high-level executives have doesn’t become an easy entry point for attackers.   CSOs and CISOs need to make executive protection a high priority for the organization.  Here are five fundamentals that security leaders should keep in mind. More

 

Experimental Defense Unit Funds New Tech but Faces Skeptics (RealClearDefense, 8/10/17)  

An Obama-era effort enlisting startup companies to come up with solutions to the military’s toughest technological challenges is funding experimental drones, new cybersecurity technology, and advanced communications systems for soldiers.  But as the DoD’s Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) office approaches the two-year mark this month, it continues to face questions from leaders in Congress and others who view it as a still-unproven, and possibly unnecessary, venture.   U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Texas Republican who chairs the House Armed Services Committee, agrees the military needs to better keep abreast of the innovation happening in the commercial sector.  But he’s not yet convinced DIUx is the long-term solution and might overlap with other advanced technology offices. More

 

U.S. Shielded from North Korea Missiles by High-Tech Defenses (Free Beacon, 8/10/17)  

Amid growing missile threats from North Korea, American missile defenses based in Alaska, California, and Guam, as well as on Navy ships, are capable of knocking out North Korean nuclear missiles, according to military leaders and experts.  Missile Defense Agency Director Air Force Lt. General Samuel Greaves said last week he is confident current defenses would be effective against Pyongyang’s missiles.  “We believe that the currently deployed ballistic missile defense system can meet today’s threat, and we’ve demonstrated that capability through testing,” Greaves said.   Contrary to critics who say ground-based interceptors and naval anti-missile systems are unreliable, retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Trey Obering, a former MDA director, says the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) provides the best protection from a long-range North Korean strike.  Yet other shorter-range defenses such as the land-based Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, and the Navy’s ship-based Aegis SM-3 missiles can knock out medium and intermediate-range North Korean missiles, and if given enough satellite warning could attack North Korea’s ICBM warheads, he said. More

 

New Squad of Experts Aims to Bring Order to Cyberwar (MIT Tech Review, 8/10/17)  

As interference in foreign elections and attacks on civilian infrastructure push the limits of what states can get away with in cyberspace, a newly formed team of lawyers, academics, executives, and government officials is scrambling to develop some simple rules of the road in an effort to prevent the rising tide of cyberattacks from leading to outright war.  The Global Commission for Stability in Cyberspace, as it’s called, is looking to succeed where the United Nations has stumbled.   Tasked with defining how existing international law should apply in cyberspace, a UN body debated the issue but reached a stalemate earlier this year, prompting calls for action outside the international body.  The need for establishing such guidelines is urgent.  Governments across the globe are racing to build and use digital tools for everything from distributing propaganda to carrying out attacks that look a lot like conventional acts of war. More

 

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